Did you know you have a lot in common with Jesus? Here’s one way. Think about your best friend. I bet he’s someone you met by accident, at school, or at a party, or on your soccer team. You didn’t go to school with the agenda of meeting someone who would become your best friend. It just happened as you went about your normal life. Same with Jesus. He was out for a walk one day beside the Sea of Galilee with no particular destination in mind, just out for a stroll when he met the men who would become his closest friends. (I guess there’s a lesson here for being open to new and unexpected relationships.) He models for us the need for friends and partners on our journey. He didn’t go it alone, neither should we.
On this walk Jesus encountered two sets of fishermen brothers, Simon and Andrew, and James and John. He invites them to join him in his work. “Follow me,” he invites, “I will use your skills and abilities for a larger purpose. Now you catch fish – follow me, learn to do as I do and you will catch people.”
Notice several things about these encounters.
1. “He was passing by the Sea of Galilee…” (Mark 1:16-20) Jesus was just out for a walk. He didn’t have “find four disciples” on his list of things to do for the day. He saw these able fishermen, most likely knew them from previous interactions, and offered them the chance to lead a different kind of life, a life that used their acquired skills and natural abilities for the Kingdom’s sake. They weren’t spiritual giants, they were ordinary fishermen.
Jesus invites ordinary you to follow him; to use your everyday skills and abilities for the sake of God’s kingdom. Take a minute and think about the things you do in your ordinary day, activities you’ve acquired by training or by natural gifts. Maybe you’re a mom, a teacher or a banker. Whatever your role, the ordinary duties you perform are absolutely transferable and useful for Jesus’ mission! The famous acting coach Konstantin Stanislavisky was channelling Jesus when he said “Remember, there are no small parts, only small actors.” You are an important part in helping fulfill Jesus’ mission.
2. The two sets of brothers, although both fishermen, were doing two different tasks: Simon and Andrew were casting their nets, James and John were mending theirs. Jesus needs all kinds of expertise in his community.
Some of us will be naturals at bringing in or adding to the family of God. Others of us will have hearts that incline toward caring for and tending the members of the community. Both dispositions (plus many other gifts) are necessary. We need to honor our temperament and personality as we follow Jesus into life’s ministry. Let your God given tendencies be used by the Spirit to complete the body of Christ. And in a spirit of humility we can bless those of us who have different giftings. It is not a competition. All are necessary and included in the community of Christ.
3. Both sets of brothers needed to be willing to leave behind important aspects of their life in order to follow Jesus.
Simon and Andrew left their nets. They were willing to lose their possessions and a relatively secure future because being with Jesus meant more to them than what they owned. James and John left their father with the hired men. From now on their sense of family would be found among the people, who like them, followed Jesus. Their primary identity would no longer be Zebedee’s sons, the fishermen. Soon they would be known as disciples of Jesus.
So on this average, ordinary day Jesus sees you going about your average, ordinary activities. He recognizes you have talents and a heart that your average, ordinary work can’t utilize or satisfy completely. You were meant for more. He invites you to join his community, to partner with him in his purpose of letting people know the Good News: God’s kingdom is here and now.
Following Jesus requires you to leave behind the security you seek from things and relationships and to cast your allegiance and trust onto Jesus. He will name you, satisfy your ache for a meaningful life, and provide the security you need to live peaceably. Jesus needs you as part of his community. It’s a grand and marvelous adventure, will you follow him?